Operation Eyesight Universal

Operation Eyesight Universal

June 20, 2011 12:05 ET

Operation Eyesight Universal: Visionary African Eye Care Doctor Visits Calgary

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - June 20, 2011) - Food crises. Civil war. Deadly leadership struggles. Emerging democracies. While Africa makes headlines regularly for a number of reasons, an important issue facing the continent can get lost: avoidable blindness.

Africa has the second highest burden of blindness and vision impairment in the world. While it has only 11 percent of the world's population, Africa is home to approximately 19 percent of the world's blind population. And being blind can be deadly, especially to those who are very young, old or poor.

Learn more about Africa's struggle with avoidable blindness from Dr. Daniel Etya'ale, a world-renowned ophthalmologist and leading force for change in African eye care. Dr. Etya'ale will visit Calgary June 22-24, hosted by international non-governmental organization Operation Eyesight Universal.

WHO:

  • Dr. Daniel Etya'ale, Executive Director for Africa, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB); biography follows
  • Pat Ferguson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Operation Eyesight

WHAT: Media availability by appointment

WHERE: In-person for Calgary media, by phone for media outside of Calgary

WHEN: Wednesday, June 22, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. MST; Thursday and Friday, June 23 and 24 by request

WHY: To speak about the status of international eye care, the roles of Operation Eyesight and IAPB, and how Canadians can help.

WHY CARE?

  • About 284 million people worldwide are visually impaired: 39 million are blind and 245 million have low vision.
  • 80 percent of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured.
  • Blindness prevention and treatment is the most cost-effective form of medical intervention.

Biography: Dr. Daniel Etya'ale, Executive Director for Africa, IAPB

In his current role as executive director for IAPB Africa, Dr. Etya'ale evaluates ongoing VISION 2020 activities and assists national programs to align their goals with the aims and objectives of VISION 2020.

Previous to that, as VISION 2020's coordinator for Africa in October 1999, Dr. Etya'ale was seconded to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, where he was responsible for the promotion, development, implementation and coordination of VISION 2020 activities throughout Africa. This involved liaising between NGDOs, WHO Regional Office, and the Ministries of Health in Africa.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Etya'ale was instrumental in developing Mectizan distribution projects in Africa and Central and Latin America as a member of the Mectizan Expert Committee and co-coordinator of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Non-Governmental Development Organization (NGDO) Group for Onchocerciasis Control. Mectizan is a drug used to treat onchocerciasis or river blindness. He also evaluated Mectizan distribution and blindness prevention projects throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Etya'ale obtained his MD degree with distinction in 1977 from the Medical School of Yaounde, Cameroon. After practicing for a number of years, he trained and earned a Diploma in Ophthalmology from Glasgow, Scotland's Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology. Dr. Etya'ale then returned to practice as the Medical Director of Enongal Presbyterian Hospital in Ebolowa, Cameroon, where he developed a comprehensive eye care delivery service for the entire Ebolowa district, created an outreach program, established secondary eye centres for cataract and glaucoma surgery, and trained general doctors in primary eye care. He also trained in Community Eye Health at the International Centre for Eye Health.

Operation Eyesight is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness in the developing world. It works with medical professionals and communities in Africa and India to help provide quality eye care programs and sustainable community development. Since 1963, through the support of its donors, millions of the world's poorest people have had their sight restored or protected. To learn more about Operation Eyesight's work, visit www.operationeyesight.com.

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